The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Local News

August 16, 2012

Farmers await tough harvest season

DEWITT — In rural Clinton County fields, corn ear size and the number of them  “is extremely variable” this year, according to Virgil Schmitt, area field agronomist, making harvesting those ears difficult.

“I think we will see some 200-plus yields and some 20 bushel yields, depending on the soils, rainfall, etc.

“Even in areas where moisture stress has been minimal, the heat is rushing maturity, which gives the plants less time to fill grain, so I suspect kernel size on average will be smaller than normal” even in the areas which had less moisture stress.

“In areas  experiencing  moisture stress, not only will kernel size be smaller, but  test weights will probably be less.

“The good news is that when the corn starts to dent, it still has about 50 percent of its dry matter to accumulate, so the rains of last week (and Sunday), followed  by cooler temperatures should help plants better fill the kernels.”

Mark Hanna of ISU Extension puts it this way: “Harvest won’t be business as usual this year. Conditions vary across the region, but also within fields in the same farming operations.

“Pre scouting  fields and approaching harvest with the right attitude is an important first step.

“We know that faster combine travel speed helps load the combine and improve grain quality. However, with weak and/or lodged stalks and stems, it may be necessary to travel slower to ensure the crop feeds into the combine as easily as possible.

“Ear sizes vary in fields. In many cases ear diameter (ear and grain) is smaller than normal. A weakened stalk base makes corn susceptible to lodging by late season winds. Or, a weakened base in some fields may cause ear droop, making it advantageous  to scout  individual fields.”

On the weather side, Jim Blaess, U.S. weather observer, said Sunday night’s soft rain delivered .35 (less than one third of an inch) of precipitation in eastern Clinton County. That brought  the August  total to 1.66 inches. He said the normal amount of precipitation for August is 4.61.

Out in the middle of the county, Farm Bureau President  Joe Dierckx said his rain gauge registered .75 of an inch.

“The grass is starting to green up,” he said. “The corn is mostly done, as it is starting to dent  already. The soybeans should be helped somewhat, depending on what we receive from here on out.”

Meanwhile, in the DeWitt office of FSA (Farm Service Agency), farm loan manager Roger Thines said, “Congress has appropriated funds for disaster loans (national office is holding the funds), but no one has applied here yet.

“For production losses we do need to have harvest done in order to assess the 30 percent loss. We can also process a loan for feed losses based on a 30 percent increase in feed costs.”

FSA does not field assess losses, he said. That is done by the individual’s insurance company, which then supplies FSA with the needed information.

“We would be happy to visit with folks in regard to their specific situation. If somebody is in need of funds, we can look to direct operating or work with the bank in putting together a guarantee as well.”

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